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President John Quincy Adams

modeled 1837 Hiram Powers Born: Woodstock, Vermont 1805 Died: Florence, Italy 1873 plaster 22 3/4 x 14 3/4 x 10 3/8 in. (57.8 x 37.4 x 26.2 cm) Smithsonian American Art Museum Museum purchase in memory of Ralph Cross Johnson 1968.155.18 Smithsonian American Art Museum
Luce Foundation Center, 3rd Floor, 20B

Luce Center Quote

“Sculptor, thy hand has moulded into form The haggard features of a toil-worn face; And whosoever views thy work shall trace An age of sorrow, and a Life of Storm. And, canst thou mould the Heart? For that—is warm; Glowing with tenderness for all its race; Instinct with all the Sympathies that grace The pure and artless bosom, where they swarm.” From “To Hiram Powers” by John Quincy Adams, 1837, quoted in Richard P. Wunder, Hiram Powers, 1989-91

Luce Center Label

The poem you see above was written by John Quincy Adams to express his thanks to Hiram Powers. The two men became friends during the sculptor’s stay in Washington, and Powers created this piece as a token of respect for the former president. The portrait was modeled in 1837, shortly before Powers left Washington for Florence, and it was one of the first sculptures carved from marble in his Italian studio. As he sat for the artist, Adams told many stories and anecdotes from his lively career. Powers later claimed that “I do not know that I have ever met with a more entertaining man.”


Occupation - political - president

Portrait male - Adams, John Quincy - bust

Portrait male - Adams, John Quincy - nude

Study - sculpture model